We catch up with amazing photographer/globe-trotter, Tristan Ceccato, about his stunning journey through India with his film camera. Sit back and soak up the smells, sights and sounds…
North: So Tristan, where did you travel in India?
Tristan: My memory is a little rough as I was there for three or so months, but if I recall correctly some of the major places we visited were Chennai, Kerala, Varanasi, Goa, Amritsar, Delhi, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Udaipur and Kolkata.
North: What was your best and worst experience?
Tristan: The assault on all of your senses is both the best and worst thing. The smells, sounds and sights can all contribute to you having the best and the worst day. Sometimes simultaneously. I also love Indian food, but India presented us with some of the worst Indian food I’ve ever had, as well as some of the best.
North: What was one unexpected thing you took away from the trip?
Tristan: Many stomach bugs. Kidding. It definitely gave me a huge sense of appreciation about where I come from, where I live and where I grew up. Having recently moved back to Australia after living in Europe, I was incredibly depressed and struggling to appreciate home. My best mate, who could easily see that I had been very down upon returning to Australia, pretty much forced me to buy the tickets to India. This was an absolute blessing, as not only was it one of the most amazing experiences of my life, it did also help me regain an appreciation of Australia, and the comparative ease of life that many of us enjoy here.
North: Of all the photos you took, what was your favourite and why? Describe the moment leading up to that photo.
Tristan: The one of the lady eating food alone (pictured below). I can’t say it’s my favourite, however it’s definitely one of my favourites. And I’m not exactly sure why. Probably because it’s just a very nice photo. The colours and composition. It’s also very rare to be able to get a photo of one person in India, a country of 1.3 billion people (laughs).
North: How do you source inspiration?
Tristan: I don’t really (laughs). I don’t consider myself a photographer, and really only do it for myself. I don’t buy souvenirs or collect any mementoes when travelling, so my photos are simply for me to have a lasting memory of anything I’ve seen or experienced. Taking most my photos on film means that I don’t really take many photos, or spend too much time behind the camera. It’s simply if an opportunity comes up, or there is something of interest, I’ll quickly suss out a nice angle and location and take the shot. There is usually only one opportunity to take photo on film, so it’s hard to spend too much time thinking about how you’re going to take the photo.
North: How would you describe your photographic style? What do you hope to capture?
Tristan: Hmmm, this is a tough one. I guess, as I said before, I’m not really a photographer (or don’t consider myself one), and I don’t really spend much time analysing my photos or style. I think it just comes naturally. Although it is interesting to note that my style has changed over the years. I’ve gone from taking photos of mostly people, to architecture and landscapes. I’m not sure where this has come from, or why. In regards to my photos in India, I would say that all the photos are quite ‘in the moment’ – if that’s a style? (laughs).
North: What kind of camera do you use and what do you love most about it?
Tristan: Most my older photos are taken on a Nikon F3. More recent ones (such as the USA) were on a Canon AE1. The Nikon is sadly dead, and the Canon is sadly lost. I loved the Nikon though. I’ve always shot on Nikons both digital and film.
North: Do you have any crazy or funny moments you’d like to share from your travels in India?
Tristan: There are so many. It is such a crazy country and even just spending one day there you can have so many stories. I can’t think of anything off the top of my head. I guess this is why photos are good, because they can jog the memory. Looking back at the photos, one thing that I’ll always remember (not crazy, but just as an amazing experience) was spending three nights over New Year’s camping in a desert in the north of India. Looking up at the stars, being so far from home, so far from anyone or a major Indian city, was quite surreal. It was a very unique way to spend New Year’s and one I will never forget.
North: Did you learn anything about yourself from that trip?
Tristan: Hmmm. India certainly tests your patience. Being there with two of my best mates meant that we all experienced some of our best and worst moments with each other. Personally, I learnt a lot about myself and the relationship with my friends (in a good way). We would all subconsciously take turns in ‘leading’ the travels. As it can be very tiring, and frustrating, each day, one of us would step up and take the leading role in organising where we were going, how we would get there, where we would stay, etc. This took the pressure and stress out of each of us and worked out really well.
Tristan: India is truly a fascinating place. It is challenging, exciting, tiring, emotional and beautiful all in one. It is one of the few places that I have been to that I would love to go back and do again, yet I wouldn’t change anything from the first time that I went.
Fall in love with India – and Tristan’s work – at his website, WeDidThings.